Metro Vancouver, B.C. – Surrey’s mayor. Surrey’s university.
Mayor Dianne Watts will be presented with an honorary degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University this fall for her positive leadership, progressive governance and dedication to the citizens of Surrey.
“Mayor Watts has been a catalyst for innovation in this city,” said KPU President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Alan Davis. “She has essentially redefined the role of Surrey mayor from one who is exclusively responsible for civic infrastructure to an all-encompassing leadership position that champions Surrey through collaboration between the various government, social service, economic, non-profit and community interests.”
Elected the city’s first female mayor in 2005 after nine years as a city councillor, Watts was re-elected in 2008 and 2011, but announced in the spring her intention not to seek re-election in November.
She has spearheaded several key strategies, including the Economic Investment Action Plan and the Build Surrey Program, which is the largest construction and investment program in the city’s history. She has also been a driving force behind the formation of Innovation Boulevard, a network of health institutions, universities, companies and medical professionals located within one square mile in Surrey’s City Centre.
Davis notes that Watts has also contributed significantly to Surrey’s social well-being. She introduced the Crime Reduction Strategy, the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Housing and Homelessness Master Plan, which have resulted in funding six outreach workers and creating 67 beds at the Phoenix Treatment Facility, 36 supportive units for single moms and children at the YWCA, 52 units at the Timber Grove Mental Health Centre and 92 units at the Quibble Creek Sobering Centre.
Watts can also be credited with initiating Sophie’s Place, which is a collaboration between Surrey RCMP, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Ministry of Justice, the City of Surrey and The Centre for Child Development. Sophie’s Place is a safe, child-friendly place for young victims of abuse to come and meet with officials to discuss the details of their cases and receive support and counseling.
RCMP initially approached Watts with the idea of a one-stop point of contact in 2011. The mayor then connected with Sophie Tweed-Simmons, daughter of KISS frontman Gene Simmons and actress Shannon Tweed, and explained the significant difference a venue like Sophie’s Place could have on young victims of abuse, and Tweed-Simmons signed on as its patron namesake.
The community came together to volunteer over Christmas and Sophie’s Place opened two months later in 2012. It is the single point of contact for children in the Lower Mainland who come to the attention of authorities each year.
Watts has also helped generate more than $1 million for the Surrey Firefighters Charitable Society. The society is the recipient of funds from the annual Mayor’s Charity Ball, and in turn directs those funds into poverty relief initiatives, medical research and community programs helping kids to stay in school.
“She’s been an amazing mayor and we are extremely proud to have her cross the stage for her honorary degree,” adds Davis.
While honoured, Watts says council, city staff and countless community partners share in the recognition because they all contributed to Surrey’s many successes.
“I humbly accept this honorary degree on behalf of the residents of Surrey,” said Watts. “I would like to commend each and every one of our citizens for their dedication and commitment – their support has been key to the City of Surrey’s continued success.”
Honorary degrees are awarded to those honoris causa in recognition of dignified achievements or outstanding service to the public. Nominees are exceptionally distinguished scholars, creative artists, public servants, people prominent in the community and the professions, and others who have made significant contributions locally, nationally or globally. Members of the community-at-large are invited to nominate honorary degree candidates.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region for 30 years, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses — Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley — offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, apprenticeships, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 18,000 students annually have a choice from over 124 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates and citations. Learn more at www.kpu.ca.
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